With a new survey reporting that residents of coastal states are unprepared for hurricane season, Virginia held its annual hurricane preparedness tax holiday last week to try to boost civilian readiness in that state. Virginia made a significant effort to promote the week and enlist the private sectorÂ with its marketing capacity and expertise behind citizen preparedness. The state also pitched the week as being a way for Virginians to get some good deals during the recession.Â Estimates say that residents saved $2.3 million on preparedness-related products last weekÂ .
Laura Southard from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management sent me a report from one of its preparedness events which enlisted Radio Disney to reach out to families in a creative way:
“Between the two Radio Disney events Monday, I would say nearly 100 families were reached through a fun, game show-style “Get Ready Virginia” event. Every parent received a goody bag containing Ready Virginia information, including a template for making a family emergency plan, kids’ game sheets, and a flyer listing the hurricane/flood seasonÂ items exempt from sales tax. This is the first time we have used special events to drive home the need for families to take action, so weÂ are anxious to see how response pans out over the summer and into the fall. Just look at the faces of all the kids and parents and you can see they had fun. Interestingly, the kids knew a lot about how to get ready for emergencies. It will be curious to see if their knowledgeÂ will translate into current family readiness — or will show up in the next generation.”
Ready Virginia/Radio Disney family preparedness event in Richmond, Virginia tied to the state’s hurricane preparedness tax holiday week (above).
One of the reasons that I am an advocate of these tax free weeks is that they provide an opportunity for government to get the private sector and their marketing operations involved in public preparedness. For example, in Virginia, ‘big-box’ chains Lowe’s and Target took out full-page ads in Sunday newspapers to promote the readiness week — a win/win/win for the businesses, the public and government emergency management officials.
Full-page Lowe’s newspaper advertisement promoting Virginia’s tax free hurricane preparedness supplies week (above).